When Omicron ripped its way through the state, I grudgingly moved my workouts back into my basement. So when Providence’s boutique fitness studio CORE invited me to try a virtual HIIT class, I grabbed the opportunity.
For the uninitiated, HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT workouts cycle through periods of intense effort followed by lower impact moves that bring the heart rate down. I admittedly stay away from this type of training, preferring to keep my “hardio” and weight training in separate splits. Could CORE convince me I was missing out?
I brought my laptop to my home gym (AKA the basement) and logged into Zoom. Instructor and CORE owner Denise Chakoian greeted us from a well-appointed room in her Wayland Square studio. After waiting a minute or two for stragglers, she turned up the music and led us in a warmup. This is where I should note, I consider myself to be a fairly fit person. I lift heavy weights. I spin. I tread. Dear reader, the challenge began at the warmup. (Hello, down dog into push up.)
With muscles limber, Chakoian told us to grab a weight, and she led us through our first move, “hot potato.” With the weight in one hand, we went into a squat and, after straightening, pushed the weight up overhead and tossed it to the other hand. We returned to a squat before repeating for a minute.
By the time hot potato ended, I was questioning my fitness level. She led us from Arnold presses (a shoulder press with a rotation at the bottom of the lift) to weighted rotating rows to jump squats; from bicep curls, to split squat jumps, to dive bomb pushups. I chucked the ten-pound weights aside, glanced at the eight pounders, and decided today wasn’t the day to be a hero. I went for the fives. (I really wanted the threes, but my ego won.) When we finished the round, Chakoian flashed a smile of encouragement and told us we were running it through again. From the beginning.
By this point, my heart rate was soaring. It spiked to 175 at various points throughout the workout, a number usually reserved for my sprint days. This is indeed HIIT.
I was more conservative on the second round, partly because my space (low ceiling, slippery floor) was not conducive to jumping. I opted for the modified versions Chakoian demonstrated, such as swapping out lunges for split squat jumps. Even with these modifications, the workout was a challenge. Then Chakoian ended with bang: jumping jacks! After, she brought our heart rates down with some ab work and light stretching.
Virtual workouts are a mixed bag. Often when I finish, I feel like I could have gone harder. But Chakoian’s class left me completely gassed. CORE has a range of at-home options, including HIIT, in their virtual library. Or opt to sweat it out in their COVID-compliant Wayland Square studio.
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